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Blacktip Island Stages Impromptu Underwater Car Show


A scuba diver examines one of the vehicles swept away in Hurricane Wendy’s storm surge Wednesday. The car, and more than a dozen others, are now the small Caribbean island’s first underwater auto show. (photo courtesy of Achim R. Schloeffel)

Blacktip Island community organizers Thursday announced the small Caribbean island’s inaugural Underwater Car Show in the wake of Hurricane Wendy’s unexpected storm surge Wednesday morning.

“The storm was tracked to go way east of the island, so lots of folks parked their cars on the west side for protection,” island meteorologist Rayne Doppler said. “Problem was, the storm wobbled and came up the west side. All the cars parked by Diddley’s Landing public pier got swept out to sea.

“There’s no way to save any of them, and no way to get them out right now, so we decided to turn lemons into lemonade,” Doppler said. “The way they’re all strewn across the sand, it looks like they’re on display, so we decided to make it a car show. Scuba divers and snorkelers can swim around and check them out to their hearts’ content. For a fee.”

Island residents had mixed feelings about the new dive site.

“We’re thankful no one was seriously injured. Or died,” Sally Port said. “Unfortunately, a bunch of Nissans did, though. It’s a tragedy, really— some of them didn’t even have rust on them yet.”

Others praised the idea.

“Intentional or not, it got rid of a bunch of island beaters,” Chip Pompano said. “All the rust-buckets with leaking mufflers, cracked windshields and random wheel rims are gone. Now people’ll have to get newer vehicles. It’s beautifying the island, long term.”

Others voiced concerns about post-hurricane relief shipments.

“The supply barge docks at Diddley’s Landing, and it may not be able to land now,” public works chief Rocky Shore said. “We got divers out there now assessing whether it’s safe to dock, or whether cars are piled up so high they’re navigational hazards.”

Environmental officials were also concerned.

“There’s at least a dozen vehicles down there, all of them leaking oil and gasoline,” marine parks spokesperson Val Schrader said. “That will negatively impact the surrounding reefs for months, if not years, to come.

“Our first thought was to haul them all out, but we don’t have the equipment,” Schrader said. “And even if we did, what would we do with them? The dump’s already full. For now, the damage is ongoing and we can’t do anything about it. They might as well turn it into a car show.”

The island’s art community praised the sunken cars.

“It’s an unprecedented in situ modern sculpture,” Marcia Chagall said. “It truly speaks to the futility of humanity pitting itself against nature. Anyone who dives out there will be struck by that juxtaposition. It also makes a great fish habitat. We can now be inspired by art while we catch dinner just offshore.”

Island officials are charging a $25 entry fee per diver to view the cars. Those wishing to retrieve personal items will be charged an additional $20. Those wishing to retrieve the personal items of others will be charged an additional $50. All proceeds will go to hurricane relief and new cars.

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